No Conflict Of Interest Rules In Place For Town Appointments

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Editor:

The town of Payson’s Planning and Zoning Commission is responsible for and has authority over zoning issues of real estate development within the town of Payson. Its recommendations are expected to ensure that zoning ordinances are enforced and that the public welfare is protected.

Their recommendations are then sent to the town council for final determination.

The commission is comprised of seven members with three-year terms. They are appointed by the mayor or vice-mayor with the approval of the town council.

In December, the term of three members expire, requiring new appointments to be made. An issue is that there is nothing in the town’s ordinances pertaining to these appointments that prevents applicants from having any occupational or financial interest in the matters that the commission may take up after they are appointed.

This is a weakness in the system, as it presents the temptation for unethical practices including conflict of interest.

The Payson town clerk claims that it is against town policy to divulge the names of applicants before they are appointed. However, a reliable source indicates that one current applicant, a surveyor, is the representative for the investment group presently involved in the 222-acre airport development.

This group is currently seeking approval in the Town’s Master Plan for their development, after which it will go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review and refinement and then to the town council for approval. It would seem that an appointment of this nature would be like “putting a fox in the hen house.”

Appointments to this commission are tentatively scheduled for the Dec. 11 council meeting. It will be interesting to see who the mayor and town council will appoint, what their backgrounds are, and whether there are any instances for possible exposure to conflict of interest.

Citizens should request their mayor and town council to “fix” the system by establishing appropriate screening procedures of applicants.

Jim Hippel, CAC co-chair

Citizens Awareness Committee Board

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